Best Online Colleges in the Northwest

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Updated on May 31, 2023
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The Northwest houses several hugely influential companies, including Amazon, Microsoft, Micron Technology, and Nike. Aside from these commercial giants, the region's top industries include technology, agriculture, aerospace and defense, andclean energy.In 2019, Forbes ranked Seattle, Washington, as the best place for business and careers, while Portland, Oregon, ranked fifth.

Several of the Northwest's major cities house an especially educated workforce, which is a boon to local businesses. In 2019, Forbes reported that 46.4% of Seattle adults and 40.3% of Portland adults held a college degree — both cities exceeding the national college attainment rate by a wide margin. To join these ranks and earn a good living, prospective students in the Northwest can choose from several accredited colleges and universities.

For students seeking options with greater flexibility, many top schools in the region also offer accredited online programs. Explore the following list of the best online colleges in the Northwest to find a school that's a good fit for you.

What Are the Best Online Colleges in the Northwest? Here Are Our Top 10:

Ranking compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team

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#1 The University of Montana-Western Dillon, MT
#2 Boise State University Boise, ID
#3 University of Providence Great Falls, MT
#4 Brigham Young University - Idaho Rexburg, ID
#5 Montana State University Bozeman, MT
#6 The University of Montana Missoula, MT
#7 Lewis-Clark State College Lewiston, ID
#8 Montana State University - Northern Havre, MT
#9 Idaho State University Pocatello, ID
#10 Montana State University Billings Billings, MT

How We Rank Schools

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At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you will make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

Best Accredited Online Colleges in the Northwest

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Best Online Colleges in The Northwest

  1. The University of Montana-Western

    Dillon, MT



    The University of Montana Western tops the list of the best online colleges in the Northwest. UMW offers online K-12 educator endorsements in physical education and health, special education, and teacher librarian. Students interested in early childhood education can enroll in associate, bachelor's, and certificate programs online.

    For learners interested in teaching high school, UMW also offers several secondary education certificates online, including art K-12, music K-12, English, and biology.

    UMW allows online students to take one course at a time and focus exclusively on that class. The university claims to offer lower tuition and fees than any other four-year institution in Montana.

  2. Boise State University

    Boise, ID



    Boise State University offers a variety of online programs, including nine bachelor's degrees, 16 master's degrees, and two doctoral degrees. Boise State also offers dozens of online graduate and undergraduate certificates in areas such as media content management, cyberoperations, conflict management, workplace elearning, and policy administration.

    Boise State serves over 26,000 students from all over the United States and over 60 foreign countries. The campus is growing, as the university recently built new living, dining, and research spaces as well as a new building for the visual arts.

    Boise State employs a NASA astronaut as a professor and is the only school in the nation that offers a master's degree in raptor biology.

  3. University of Providence

    Great Falls, MT

    The University of Providence offers seven online undergraduate programs and seven online graduate degrees. Popular fields include paralegal studies, criminal justice, nursing, and healthcare administration. The university delivers most online coursework asynchronously and without on-campus requirements.

    Founded in 1932, UP emphasizes connections between people with their community, people with each other, and people with their potential. The university offers many student volunteering opportunities.

    A small school with just 480 undergraduates, UP boasts a 12-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. About 95% of all students receive some sort of financial aid.

  4. Brigham Young University - Idaho

    Rexburg, ID

    Brigham Young University - Idaho offers the unique certificate first program, which allows students enrolled in a bachelor's program to earn a certificate and an associate degree along the way at no extra cost. Students often earn higher wages after completing a certificate.

    Online students can choose from seven bachelor's programs, including degrees in applied business management, communication, applied health, and professional studies. The university serves about 15,000 online students and 34,000 on-campus students.

    BYU-Idaho encourages all students to reach their full potential through a high-value but affordable education. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints receive a discount on tuition.

  5. Montana State University

    Bozeman, MT



    Montana State University offers 20 online programs, including a bachelor of arts in liberal studies, 11 master's degrees, a doctor of nursing practice, and several certificates.

    As Montana's largest university, MSU has an enrollment of more than 16,000 students. MSU's students have an average high school GPA of 3.57 and an average ACT score of 25. The university mostly serves learners from the Northwest, but students from all over the nation enroll in MSU's online programs.

    MSU has been designated as a university with very high research activity and very high undergraduate research activity. The school ranks in the top 3% in the nation for the amount of money it invests in research.

  6. The University of Montana

    Missoula, MT



    The University of Montana ranks among the best accredited online colleges in the Northwest. UM offers more than 45 online programs, including an AA or AS in general studies, five bachelor's degrees, 15 master's degrees, a doctorate, and a Ph.D. The university also offers several online certificates.

    UM provides learners with a personalized experience, maintaining an average class size of 30 and a 13-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. The university serves about 9,500 students and is based in Missoula.

    UM's 56-acre main campus is situated at the base of Mount Sentinel and runs along the Clark Fork River. The university houses over 60 uniquely designed buildings, including a football stadium. UM's 180-acre South Campus features a golf course, an outdoor track facility, soccer fields, and student housing.

  7. Lewis-Clark State College

    Lewiston, ID



    Based in Lewiston, Idaho, Lewis-Clark State College offers more than 20 fully online programs, including an AA in behavioral science; an AS, BA, or BS in business administration; and a BA or BS in elementary education. The college's online RN-to-BSN program is particularly popular.

    LCSC's $27 million Schweitzer Career & Technical Education Center, completed in 2020, provides 86,000 square feet of space for hands-on training in HVAC, industrial maintenance, industrial electronics, engineering technology, CNC machining, auto mechanics, and information technology.

    LCSC demonstrates its commitment to keeping college affordable through low tuition rates for Idaho residents.

  8. Montana State University - Northern

    Havre, MT



    Based in Havre, Montana State University Northern offers nine online degrees and seven online minors. The university's online programs include an online associate of arts in general education, an associate of science in business technology, and six online bachelor's degrees. Aspiring teachers can pursue a master of science in education, instruction, and learning.

    MSUN provides an intimate educational experience, enrolling about 1,000 students and maintaining a 14-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. The area MSUN serves includes four Native American reservations.

    Through the main campus, MSUN offers over 35 majors, the most popular of which are business, counselor education, diesel technology, elementary education, and nursing. About 80% of all students receive financial aid.

    MSUN is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

  9. Idaho State University

    Pocatello, ID



    Idaho State University offers more than 60 online programs, including five certificates, seven associate degrees, 22 bachelor's degrees, 27 master's degrees, and five doctoral degrees. Most of the university's online programs include both synchronous and asynchronous elements.

    ISU serves about 12,400 students, 58% of whom attend full time. The university strives to provide each student with individual attention, maintaining a student-to-faculty ratio of 13-to-1.

    As of July 2021, ISU was building a brand new alumni center. The center will include several meeting rooms and will be completed by spring 2023.

  10. Montana State University Billings

    Billings, MT



    Montana State University Billings offers over 25 online programs, including five associate degrees, 10 bachelor's degrees, and seven master's degrees. The university offers three certificate programs and several online concentrations for its bachelor of applied science and bachelor of science in liberal studies degrees.

    MSU Billings serves approximately 4,000 students and maintains a 14-to-1 student-faculty ratio. Students have the opportunity to participate in internships and service learning to apply their coursework in the field. MSU Billings's four-year graduates earn an average of $4,500 more per year than graduates of other four-year public institutions in Montana.

    MSU Billings is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Top Degree Programs in the Northwest is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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